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How to Build Your Support Network for Good Times and Bad

By Melvin Gordon | October 15, 2018 | Rally Health

Because I’m traveling all over the country for games and training, I don’t always have a lot of time to stay in touch with friends and family, and even less time to spend acting as a mentor for others. But these are my most important relationships, the ones that help me through tough times. When everything is going great, it’s important to have people around who support me. And when things are going wrong, when I’m dealing with losses and injuries, it becomes even more important to have a good support network.

So I make it a priority to stay in touch with friends, make time for mentoring kids, and always call home.

Stay in touch, even when you’re not there

It’s hard, being so far away. My best friend, Trae, and I don’t get to spend a lot of time together anymore, between my travel schedule and his family life, but that hasn’t changed our friendship. We still make time to stay in touch, even if that means just sending a quick text to say hi if we haven’t seen each other in a while. Those little gestures keep a friendship alive. I do a lot of FaceTiming and calling with my family, too. It was a challenge to get my parents used to FaceTime, but it was important to me,  so we worked it out!

Pro tip: Is there a friend you’ve fallen out of touch with lately? Reach out and recommit to spending just a few minutes a week talking, texting, or emailing. Make it a regular part of your life, not just something you do every few months.

Watch: Melvin Gordon on Staying Grounded

Be there when you can, and make it count

Flights are really draining, so I don’t get home much. But sometimes I miss my family so much that I get on a plane, or I find a reason to do some community service back home so I can combine that with a visit. I have a lot of cousins, so whenever I do get home, I try to spend as much time with them as I can. And when I do see them, or do see Trae, it’s like a really fun reunion.

Pro tip: Haven’t found time to visit family lately? Look at your schedule and try to figure out a time that will work for you and your relatives, and book that trip now, before you rethink it.

Volunteering and mentoring means community

A huge part of why I love running my Melvin Gordon Football Camp near my hometown in Wisconsin is because it gives me a chance to give back to my old community, and because a lot of those kids don’t have the support I did. My parents always told me I could do anything or be anything, and they worked hard to help me reach my dreams. But I know that not every kid has that kind of support. So if I can just encourage those kids, that’s a huge accomplishment to me. It helps remind me of how much support I have in my life.

Pro tip: Find a way to give back in some way to your community. That might be helping coach a sport that you loved as a kid, or maybe it means volunteering at an old age home instead. Pick something that will make you feel connected and that you’ll have fun doing.

It's OK to multitask

When you’re busy all the time, you need to make time with friends and family really count — and that might mean multitasking. It’s not as easy to find time to just hang out, but if you can be doing something else while you spend time together, it makes it a lot easier to take that time. So when it’s the offseason, Trae and I will practice together, and work together on projects when we can.  And when I’m home even for a short trip, I try to see as many family members and spend as much time with them as I can, even if I’m there to help with a camp or a charity event.

Pro tip: The next time you make plans to see family or friends, think about how you could make the most of your time. Could you combine a workout or a walk with a hangout with a friend, instead of trying to find time to meet for drinks?

Remember where you came from

It can be really easy to get swept up in my work and in my team. But at the end of the day, I’m always thinking back to the support I’ve gotten from my family. I try to live my life around advice my mom gave me — she always told me to be my own man, and never follow the herd. I try to remember that in every decision I make, and when I’m in certain situations, I think about being myself, and taking responsibility for my choices.

Pro tip: Is there any piece of advice or supportive moment that your parents gave to you? Can you apply it better to your life — and have you thanked them?

Melvin Gordon is a Rally® Health Ambassador.

Melvin Gordon
Rally Health